CEO Mildura Base Public Hospital, Terry Welch. Photo: Paul Mensch
This morning the Sunraysia community woke up with their own public hospital overseen by a local board of directors – the final step by the State Government to return Mildura Base Hospital to public hands.

The transition to Mildura Base Public Hospital (MBPH) had finally taken effect after more than two decades of the hospital being run by Ramsay Health Care, under a 1998 privatisation deal by the former Kennett Liberal National Government.

More than 900 existing staff from Mildura’s biggest employer have transitioned across to jobs, wearing new uniforms and having access to salary packaging and other public entity benefits.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, MBPH CEO Terry Welch said that the good planning ahead of the transition had been key.

“The service at the hospital is functioning and operating beautifully – as it should – which has been the key to the transition planning right the way through,” he said.

“The successful transition from now on will be building on that work and establishing the foundations for us moving forward and identifying the areas where we can improve and we will do that methodically and by imbedding systems and putting those fundamentals in place that are so important for a contemporary 2020 health service.”

Newly appointed hospital chair Mary Rydberg said that the board’s number one priority is to continue to provide a quality and safe service for the community.

“The role of running a hospital is very challenging and we have issues to address in regard to how we consult and collaborate with the community and give them a sense of ownership,” she said.

“The really important thing is that we are now part of a regional shared service, which enables us to use expertise from other hospitals.”

Mildura MP Ali Cupper, whose election campaign platform road heavily on the return of the hospital to public administration, said that the new model would put patient’s interest’s front and centre.

“The other model, which has been largely discredited and abandoned around the world, pits profits against patients,” she said.

“It doesn’t work – it is ill suited to public health care. In a myriad of different ways this will be a much better model because it is tried and tested it is what everybody else does.”